The Washington Post:
To beat a sitting president, you first have to chase him around the country.
At least that’s the operating theory at Mitt Romney’s campaign headquarters, where aides are unleashing an aggressive strategy to combat President Obama at his campaign stops and even adopt Obama’s itinerary as their own.
With the general election campaign now in full swing, the presumptive Republican nominee plans to stage “prebuttal” and “rebuttal” speeches to Obama designed to try to force the president on the defensive.
Romney’s effort begins Wednesday, when he jets to Charlotte, N.C., which hosts the Democratic National Convention in September. Romney booked a rooftop venue with sweeping views of Bank of America Stadium — where Obama will formally accept his party’s nomination for reelection — to deliver what aides are billing as a prebuttal to Obama’s nomination speech.
Aides said Romney’s message will boil down to this: “Are you better off than you were four years ago, the last time Obama gave a convention speech?”
Also Wednesday, during Obama’s scheduled stop in Ohio, Romney’s campaign bus will be loaded up with state surrogates and local phone bank volunteers and will drive circles around the Elyria community college where Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks on the economy. And aides said Romney is considering going to Ohio on Thursday to give his own speech on the economy.
(...) By involving the candidate himself and his logo bus, the Romney team’s bracketing is particularly audacious and establishes a confrontational tone at the start of the general election.
“Our campaign is going to go toe-to-toe and post up against the Obama machine every day to help get the message out that Mitt Romney will be able to deliver what this president could not — and that’s a more prosperous America,” said Gail Gitcho, communications director for the Romney campaign.
(...) Romney aides acknowledge the difficulty of taking on the incumbent president, but believe that to win in November they have to not only articulate a broad vision, but also execute small tasks — and that includes winning daily, or even hourly, news cycles.
(...) The strategy is orchestrated by Gitcho, who ran the Republican National Committee’s press shop the first year of the Obama administration and is regarded as one of the GOP’s most effective bracketing specialists.
But as Gitcho knows, bracketing works only if it’s effective — getting in the head of the opponent or amplifying a message that hurts his campaign.
“The Obama campaign is big. They are a massive machine,” Gitcho said. But, she added, “The Romney campaign is going to be doing very big things in very big states.”